Special to the PRESS
Officials with The Texas A&M University System, the City of McAllen and Hidalgo County took the first steps today to expand Texas A&M’s presence in the Rio Grande Valley and create new higher education options for students.
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young, McAllen Mayor James “Jim” Darling and Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia signed a letter of intent at a joint meeting of the McAllen City Commission and the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court.
“We are excited to be exploring this opportunity in McAllen and we look forward to expanding Texas A&M’s presence here,” Chancellor Sharp said. “We hope to establish first a teaching center and ultimately a branch campus that will provide students an outstanding option for higher education in the Valley.”
“This important new presence in South Texas enables Texas A&M to provide additional academic and leadership development opportunities to young people in fulfillment of our land-grant mission and lays the foundation for many more related opportunities in the future,” said President Young. “We are proud of our long association with the Rio Grande Valley and look forward to building on the area’s tremendous economic growth and development for the benefit of all.”
“Education is the best equalizer,” said State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. “Texas A&M’s proposed teaching center in McAllen will provide more opportunities for our Valley residents. We need to keep expanding education to keep up with our growing populations that are demanding new facilities and opportunities for educational success. I look forward to working with Texas A&M in this new endeavor.”
Under the letter of intent, all entities agree to the creation of a teaching facility on approximately 100 acres of land within the Tres Lagos development on the north side of McAllen. Tres Lagos is a 2,571-acre planned community located in McAllen’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The City of McAllen, in conjunction with Hidalgo County, is offering the 100 acres, plus $10 million towards a teaching facility and $8 million to install utilities and infrastructure. Texas A&M will seek the necessary approvals to provide academic programs such as engineering, engineering technology, biomedical sciences, and agriculture and life sciences as well as helping to fund construction costs associated with building the teaching facility. Courses will be taught by Texas A&M faculty and graduates will receive the iconic Aggie ring.
The goal is to open the facility by 2017 with 100 students, but expand to 750 students over five years.
The letter of intent calls for the parties to conduct due diligence “expeditiously” but notes that any final agreement must be approved by the governing bodies of each party, including the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
Mayor Darling said local officials have been working to provide additional options offering young people more reasons to stay in the Rio Grande Valley for higher education.
“We realize that the most important opportunity is education. With this exciting announcement of the new Texas A&M campus, we are thrilled about the enhanced educational opportunities for our Valley students,” Darling said. “We realize that this new presence gives the Rio Grande Valley and McAllen a phenomenal new higher education institution which South Texas deserves. Welcome Texas A&M! Welcome to our future!”
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said today’s announcement is a game changer.
“I could not be happier to further our support for the advancement of higher education for the citizens of Hidalgo County and South Texas. With the addition of a Texas A&M campus, our region will have two flagship institutions with access to Permanent University Funds,” Garcia said. “Hidalgo County is proud to partner with the City of McAllen and Texas A&M University. Education is the great equalizer. On behalf of Hidalgo County, I would like to thank Chancellor John Sharp, President Michael Young and the Texas A&M Board of Regents for their confidence and investment in South Texas.”
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